Ivy League Education Creates Zombies


With this I would wholeheartedly agree.  But only with the caviat that it does not need to.

In the article written by William Deresiewicz of The New Republic, the very large claim is made that going to an Ivy League institution creates brainless, passionless, and goal-oriented students who worry about networking rather than originality.  I think Deresiewicz has a point.  Going to an Ivy League institution is a *huge* source of pride.  To the point where the actual education recieved is worth less than the title of an "Ivy League Graduate."

As a student at Columbia, I see this first hand.  People choose to attend Columbia because of its prestigious name rather than the education facets that make it a unique institution.  Very few students come in knowing about the core, and even fewer appreciate its value in their life.  The students who go to Ivy League instutitions just because they're recognizable are the same students who spend their hours networking, working at JPMorgan or Goldman Sachs, and never read any of the core books yet speak with the authority as though they had.

But such students don't comprise the whole student body.  I know plenty of students who continue to read for fun, on top of the rigourous courseloads.  I know people who compose whole musicals, who write novels, who are professional dancers on the side.  Their educations don't override their lives, and they don't fall to the wayside, ending up as a mere line on a resume.  Instead, these students use their education to enhance their passions.  They use the resources and skills they gain in the Ivy League classroom to make their own lives all the more rich.

Sure, there are the socially anxious among us.  There are students who spend far too much time worrying about appearances and networking.  But there are just as many students who happily strike up a discussion about Dosteovsky in Hungarian Pastry Shop because they want to connect with another human over a piece of literature.  And honestly, who at the age of 20 is not going to be a little depressed, nervous, and anxious?  We are still figuring out how to function as an adult in this world.

Yes, I am the first to admit it, going to such a rigourous institution is very stressful.  And it often feels as though you must put all of your passions aside and power through spark notes rather than taking the time away from studying for stats to read Kant for tomorrow's class.  It is very difficult to not take the easy path and power through.  It is nearly impossible to act in the more rewarding way and not skim the texts, but try to connect with them on a personal level.

Even getting a B for the first time in your life can be mollified by the insight you gained from the texts and long chats with your professor.

I can't do away with the prestige of an Ivy League University with a wave of my pencil.  But I wish I could.  Because then there would be far fewer zombie students roaming the streets of New York.  Schools wouldn't be chosen for their career-boosting powers.  The game may stop being about graduating wtih the highest possible amount of honors and resumes may not require knowing the exact name of your alma mater.

Someday, this high pressure academic bubble is going to inevitably burst.  Someday the students won't be able to live up to the standard set by their predecessors.  But until then, the zombie apocalypse will continue.


**this only covers a small fraction of the article, to read the whole thing, click here.  There are so many other aspects to this article that have been very well written out and should definitely be read.  If you have any investment at all in the higher education system in this country, these are definitely key issues that we should all be aware of.

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Meet The Author

I'm Madysen, born and raised in Nebraska but now living out my dreams in New York City. I moved here to go to Columbia, but living in New York has become so much more to me. This blog is a space where I can share my experiences of reconciling my midwestern upbringing with the life I live in the city. But even bigger than that, this blog serves as a space where I can try to understand where I fit into the larger social world, where I want to go in life, and how I want to go about pursuing all of these endeavors.

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